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Smooth Muscle Antibody

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Also known as: SMA; Anti-Smooth Muscle Antibody; ASMA; Actin Antibody; F-Actin Antibody; ACTA
Formal name: Smooth Muscle Antibody

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To help diagnose autoimmune hepatitis and distinguish it from other causes of liver injury

When to Get Tested?

When you have hepatitis that your doctor suspects may be due to an autoimmune-related process

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?

None

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Smooth muscle antibodies (SMA) are autoantibodies, proteins produced by the body's immune system that recognize and attack its own actin, a protein found in smooth muscle and other tissues, especially the liver. This test detects and measures the amount (titer) of SMA (or antibody against actin) in the blood.

The production of smooth muscle or actin antibodies is strongly associated with autoimmune hepatitis. It may also sometimes be seen in other forms of liver disease, such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), but usually at lower antibody titers.

Autoimmune hepatitis occurs when the immune system attacks the body's liver cells. It presents as an acute or chronic inflammation of the liver that is not due to another cause, such as a viral infection, exposure to a drug or toxin, a hereditary disorder, or alcohol abuse. It can lead to liver cirrhosis and, in some cases, to liver failure. Autoimmune hepatitis can affect anyone at any age, but about 80% of patients are women. In the United States, more than 70% of people with this disorder will have SMA or actin antibodies, either alone or along with antinuclear antibodies (ANA).

The majority of smooth muscle antibodies produced with autoimmune hepatitis is specifically directed against a protein called actin or F-actin. Testing is available for specific actin autoantibodies, but it is not available in every laboratory. Tests for actin antibodies detect more cases of autoimmune hepatitis but, in some studies, give more false-positive results than tests for smooth muscle antibodies.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.

NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.

Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed.

The Test

Common Questions

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Article Sources

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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.

Sources Used in Current Review

Sloan, J. and Feyssa, E. (Updated 2012 December 20). Anti-Smooth-Muscle Antibody. Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2086774-overview#showall through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed February 2013.

Longstreth, G. (2012 October 8). Autoimmune hepatitis. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000245.htm. Accessed February 2013.

Makover, M. (Updated 2011 February 10). Anti-smooth muscle antibody. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003531.htm. Accessed February 2013.

Tebo, A. (Updated 2012 August). Primary Biliary Cirrhosis – PBC. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/PBC.html?client_ID=LTD#tabs=0 through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed February 2013.

(Updated 2012 February 16). Autoimmune Hepatitis. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse [On-line information]. Available online at http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/autoimmunehep/ through http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov. Accessed February 2013.

(© 1995–2013). Smooth Muscle Antibodies, Serum. Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Overview/6284 through http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com. Accessed February 2013.

Shaffer, E. (Reviewed 2009 June) Laboratory Tests of the Liver and Gallbladder. Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals [On-line information]. Available online through http://www.merckmanuals.com. Accessed February 2013.

Slev, P. and Tebo, A. (Updated 2013 February). Hepatitis, Autoimmune – AIH. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/AIH.html?client_ID=LTD#tabs=0 through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed March 2013.

Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2011). Mosby’s Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 10th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 99-100.

Bogdanos DP. Autoimmune liver serology: Current diagnostic and clinical challenges. World J Gastroenterol. 2008 June 7; 14(21): 3374–3387. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716592/ through http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed April 2013.

(June 2010) Manns M, et al. Diagnosis and Management of Autoimmune Hepatitis. AASLD Practice Guidelines, Hepatology. PDF available online at http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Documents/AIH2010.pdf through http://www.aasld.org. Accessed April 2013.

Sources Used in Previous Reviews

Thomas, Clayton L., Editor (1997). Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, PA [18th Edition].

Pagana, Kathleen D. & Pagana, Timothy J. (2001). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 5th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 92-93.

Beuers, U. and Rust, C. (2005 October 27). Overlap Syndromes. Medscape, from Semin Liver Dis. 2005; 25(3): 311-320. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/512463 through http://www.medscape.com.

Stone, C. (2004 November 10, Updated). Autoimmune liver disease panel. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003328.htm.

Peng, S. (2005 April 20). Anti-smooth muscle antibody. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003531.htm.

(© 2005). Smooth Muscle Antibody, IgG with Reflex to Titer. ARUP's Guide to Clinical Laboratory Testing [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arup-lab.com/guides/clt/tests/clt_203b.jsp#3219875 through http://www.arup-lab.com.

Strassburg, C. and Manns, M. (2003 January 9). Autoantibodies and Autoantigens in Autoimmune Hepatitis. Medscape from Semin Liver Dis 22(4): 339 -351, 2002 [On-line journal]. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/445619 through http://www.medscape.com.

Czaja, A. and Freese, D. et. al. (2002 August). Diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune hepatitis. National Guideline Clearinghouse [On-line information]. Available online through http://www.guideline.gov.

(© 2005). F-Actin (Smooth Muscle) IgG by Enzyme. ImmunoassayARUP's Guide to Clinical Laboratory Testing [[On-line information]. Available online at http://www.aruplab.com/guides/clt/tests/clt_a254.jsp#5444091 through http://www.aruplab.com.

(© 2003). Actin (Smooth Muscle) Antibody. LabCorp [On-line test information]. Available online at http://www.labcorp.com/datasets/labcorp/html/chapter/mono/se018700.htm through http://www.labcorp.com.

Pagana, Kathleen D. & Pagana, Timothy J. (© 2007). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 8th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 96-97.

Clarke, W. and Dufour, D. R., Editors (© 2006). Contemporary Practice in Clinical Chemistry: AACC Press, Washington, DC. Pp 272.

Wu, A. (© 2006). Tietz Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests, Fourth Edition: Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis, MO. Pp 990-991.

Lee, S. (Updated 2007 May 27). Anti-smooth muscle antibody. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003531.htm. Accessed 1/29/09.

(2008 April). Autoimmune Hepatitis. NDDIC [On-line information]. Available online at http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/autoimmunehep/ through http://digestive.niddk.nig.gov. Accessed 1/29/09.

Dugdale, D. (Updated 2008 November 2). Autoimmune liver disease panel. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003328.htm. Accessed 1/29/09.

Hill, H. et. al (Updated 2008 September). Hepatitis, Autoimmune – AIH. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/GastrointestinalDz/AIH.html# through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed 1/29/09.

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